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This time of year and gratitude seem to go hand-in-hand. As business people we reflect on the past year’s sales and all our clients throughout the year. It’s important to let them know how much you appreciate them by a simple “thank-you.” I watched a TED talk video by Dr. Laura Trice a while back about the power of praise, admiration and saying thank-you. She had two main points regarding this topic (https://www.ted.com/talks/laura_trice_suggests_we_all_say_thank_you/up-next).
Her first point was that most of us really do want to hear someone thank us. Not that we need a flashing billboard in our honor, but being appreciate is one of those things that motivates us and a little can go a long way. Secondly, she says we need to make it clear when we want to be appreciated. You know as well as I do that our customers use their “voice” in this area by not doing business with us anymore. How many times have you left a situation because you felt underappreciated?
I bet you can think of at least one and most likely, it’s not a pleasant memory. She uses the example of truing the wheels of her bicycle, which is making the wheels like new again by taking the bumps out. I think this is a great example of what we can do as business owners. Let’s say your client had an unpleasant experience doing business with you, this could be due to a fault of your own or not, regardless they don’t have good memory about your business, you can “true the wheels” of this experience to help take the bumps out and make their experience like new.
How do we do that in today’s disconnected, technologically advanced world? Today’s market makes it easy to forget to put a real face to our clients, particularly if your business is one that serves mostly online customers. This is your opportunity to be different from your competitors and standout by genuinely letting your customers know that you appreciate their business and you’re so happy they chose you out of all the global choices they had to choose from. I recently conducted a study regarding the strategic management of Macy’s and the problems this 159-year-old company is facing today. One thing I observed was that they are trying new things to compete in today’s global economy, which is great because it is imperative that they do that, but somewhere along the way they’ve lost their “magic of Macy’s,” which, in my opinion, is part of the reason they are hurting today. The “magic” I am talking about is offering great customer service and really letting customers know they are appreciated. I mentioned in my report that things such as great customer service have almost become a niche market in today’s technology driven world, particularly in retail.
How can you offer your customers a genuine thank-you? I’m talking about a bit more than the standard auto-response email with clichéd language of “thank you for your business” we receive when we make an online purchase. Although those are worth more to me than if a business doesn’t say anything at all, but it doesn’t really do much for the loyalty factor on my end. I don’t feel personally and emotional connected to that company to stay loyal to them. Again, how do we do this when we may never even see our customers? Let’s start with a real thank-you. It could say something like this:
Thank you for making the purchase of XYZ. We hope it meets your quality standards and satisfaction. If for any reason it does not, please don’t hesitate to contact me. We proudly stand behind our product and customer satisfaction.
Jim Smith, Customer Specialist
Adding the personal touch of using my name, naming my specific purchase and using the phrase, “contact me” immediately connects me to the company. This is a great way to start opening the gratitude and customer loyalty door, but it can’t stop with an email. We have to use all forms of medium available to us these days. You can accomplish this via social media, online distribution materials and old-fashioned snail mail by offering clients a gift card to use on their next purchase.
Oriental Trading does a fantastic job at this. Every so often, they will send me a $20 gift card just to thank me for my business with no strings attached to use however I want on their website. Guess what? I use it and I normally spend at least twice the value of the gift card. By offering this simple $20 to me, they have creating brand loyalty, customer satisfaction and let me know they appreciate little old me. I’m sure they send thousands of those gift cards out, but it makes me feel special and like they do genuinely appreciate my business.
You can also show your gratitude by partnering up with another business and cross marketing.
Say you’re a business such as Oriental Trading, why not pair up with another business like Great American Cookie Company? Offer your loyal customer a free cookie via your app or an email with a coupon attached. What if you’re like my business and not quite to the magnitude of a company like Oriental Trading? Each year I personally bake cookies for all of our clients we’ve built homes for. In most cases, we personally deliver them, but some we mail. Our customer appreciate this simple act and we are able to let them know we still appreciate their business. Now, for most retail customers you probably sell a bit more product than we do, so it’s not all that practical to bake cookies for thousands of customers, but you can offer them the same type of gift card as Oriental Trading or a coupon for a free cookie. Keep in mind, it’s not really about the free item, it’s about the gesture that you want to show your gratitude and offer an unexpected surprise for your customer.
Even if you’re not a natural giver of thanks, make it a point to say thank-you at every turn in your business and eventually you will form a habit of saying “thank you.” A habit of gratitude is a great habit to have.